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Partners in Practice

March 4, 2017

Meet Today’s Patient Needs With Compassion, Technology


By: Bill Hemmer, DC

In my previous post, I explained the new Medicare Part B, the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) program, and how health care professional claims will be assessed. Now, let’s focus on your patients’ perception of social changes occurring in health care and how these changes can create a competitive advantage for the providers who embrace them and market them effectively.

A 2014 study performed by The Advisory Board identified the five most important attributes patients want from their health care providers:

  1. The top attribute was convenience, especially for people 30 and older. They want care close to home, on their time schedule, and with minimal wait time.
  2. The second most important attribute was access to the provider. After-hours access was most important for patients ages 18-49, and weekend access was important for the 50-plus group. These patients don’t necessarily need to physically see you, but they want their questions answered.
  3. The third attribute was extreme value. The 18-49 group was most interested in eliminating out-of-pocket expenses. Convenience and service trump having no out-of-pocket expense for patients over 50. Both groups are very adamant about knowing all of the charges for a visit up front. They don’t want any surprises.
  4. The fourth attribute was reputation. Oddly enough, for those under the age of 65, this was a minor factor. Most people only see a health care provider once or twice before they move on to another provider in our current health care environment.
  5. The final attribute was quality of care. The more the health care provider used the latest technology, the better the quality of care was perceived. This was seen in all age groups.

Your opportunity to build a competitive advantage and become the premier health care provider in your community develops when you embrace these five attributes and combine them with the technology that both patients and insurance companies want.

This combination allows the health care provider to better capture outcome data, streamline the patient experience, outsource nonessential duties to trained personnel like health coaches, and spend more quality time doing what they love to do—work with patients.

New technology has emerged to allow patients to ask questions via a secure Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-complaint messaging system any time, day or night. Healthy lifestyle tracking devices and software has also been developed to make our job as health care providers more convenient than ever before.

The real key to this combination is for the health care professional to become accustomed to and familiar with all of this emerging technology and be the first in the community to provide it. When you are able to market your superior outcomes using patient testimonials and provide all five attributes to your community, your competitive advantage will be solid.

When I began practicing 28 years ago, I never thought I would see the day that I would worry about technology and how insurance companies were going to pay me as much as I was concerned about working with patients. But in this time of huge social change in the health care environment, this is really what has happened in order for me to keep my doors open.

However, I refuse to take my focus off my patients. Patients have to pay more than ever for health care. I want them to realize I am their “health” care provider, not their “sickness” care provider, and create a long-term relationship much like the hometown health care providers of days gone by.

Those health care providers took care of every part of health. They brought people into this world, and they were there when people left this world. They came over for Sunday dinner. They were sometimes paid in produce or livestock. They only resorted to rescue measures (drugs or surgery) when absolutely necessary.

The need for these types of health care providers has come again. The practitioners of the future will build relationships around recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, nutritious diet, and exercise by using emerging technology. These providers will stay more connected than ever before to build the same type of relationships commonly found in the past.

Combining the objective measures necessary for insurance reimbursement with the quality, value-based care your patients want will give you a competitive advantage you can market to your community. You can become the health care professional you have always wanted to be.

If you read the first part of this series, I hope you found my story about the pony under the manure amusing. Isn’t it time we all find the pony in the room full of manure we have all been thrown into?

Tagged in: Technology

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.